The Story of Roy and Learning To Love and Be Loved

The Story of Roy and Learning To Love and Be Loved

I wish I could have a reunion with my best friend Roy Moyer. He died years ago, at the age of 29. We met at freshman orientation at Florida State University in Tallahassee. I looked across the room and saw this tall, handsome Nordic blonde guy smiling and I said to myself: ‘There is my life’s best friend.” We became like brother and sister, closer even, we were twin souls. 

For years, we did everything together. We giggled and laughed and danced through our college years. We were housemates along with our friend Lisa our senior year; we fixed hundreds of awesome dinners together; we shopped and traveled together, and we shared our innermost feelings and experiences. In fact, sharing something with Roy was often the best part of a new event in my life and hearing something wonderful that Roy experienced made me as happy as it made him.

Roy was warm and funny, goofy and silly in a Dudley Doo Right kind of way. He was kind and loving and generous and had a deep full laugh that was contagious. We accepted each other down to the core. Someone loving you that much made you feel loved absolutely. Roy taught me that people showed their love in different ways even saying “Patti  when I fix your broken necklace, I am showing I love you.” “When I reach something from a high shelf for you I am showing that I love you and I know when you have my favorite big BLT fixed for me at lunch you are loving me and when you let me sing off-key through a long car ride you’re showing that you love me.”
We were tender and affectionate with one another. Like, a brother and sister. I was not attracted to him, which worked well as he was gay. Instead, we completed each other. We had both come from abusive households. He had big scars on his back from where his father had beaten him with a belt, my scars were less visible. Our friendship healed many of those scars. 

And oh how we matched. We laughed at how often would dress in a similar way — same dark blue jeans, same leather jacket. Both of us even had red shoes, mine pumps, and his oxfords. We would sit in a similar way next to each other on the couch. When we got on the phone, we talked in a similar tone and rhythm. When we were sitting across the table from each other eating, we would both pick up and put down our knives at the same time. Our sameness made us feel comfortable around one
another. Being with each other was like being home. Years later I would have a housemate Pat who wrote her Master’s thesis novel loosely based her life during our year's housemates. Her professors said that my closeness and matching with Roy did not make sense. So in her novel, she made Roy and I twins!

After college, he moved to Atlanta and became a social worker. I went to Auburn University to pursue a master’s degree, and then returned to Tallahassee to begin a Ph.D. program.  Roy and I were as close as ever. We talked for hours on our weekly phone calls and visited each other every few months.I lived in a small town where I couldn’t go shopping without running into someone I knew.  Roy and I were so close that when my friends in Tallahassee who hadn’t even met Roy knew he was my “Twin Soul” so when they would see me they would always ask, “How are you?” “How is Roy?” 

Years passed. I had a four-bedroom house with a big fenced-in yard, a steady boyfriend, a group of friends that were like a second family, wonderful housemates and a great dog. I took martial arts classes, and. I’d eat grape nuts for breakfast and joked with my housemate Pat about our crazy dream from the night before. I’d start my day singing in the shower and then get in my car singing along with the songs on my radio on my way to work.

I had my own consulting company and taught communication at Florida State; my class in nonverbal communication had 150 students enrolled each semester. I was living a happily-ever-after existence and Roy was always a part of me and I was always a part of him.

When we were both 29 Roy and I went to visit Roy and we went walking in Atlanta’s Piedmont Park. His big 6’2 frame towered above my petite five feet two inches. It was a beautiful spring day and as we circled the lake and I was blissfully breathing the fragrant flowered air so happy to be Roy. As we rounded a curve, Roy stopped, brushed back his blonde hair, turned toward me and said, “Patti, I’m dying.” 

I heard a loud gut-wrenching scream crying “No!” echo across the lake. It took me a moment to realize the scream was mine.

At that moment, everything in my life began to change. I knew with certainty I had to move to Atlanta to be with Roy. I didn’t ask him if he wanted me to come, I just decided. People thought I was crazy. But it was really selfish – I just had to be with him.

Within a few days, my boyfriend had broken up with me - he was afraid of being infected from my innocent friendship with Roy - and I began getting rid of my belongings. I sold almost everything in the house down to the bare walls. I took the cash and left my house, my friends, and my speaking business.  I took a job as at temp receptionist in Atlanta to make ends meet, exchanging a $1,000-a-program speaking life for a $7.50-an-hour wage. Instead of being treated with respect and admiration, I was treated like a servant.

I took a small apartment and fitfully slept on a borrowed mattress on the floor of my closet. I was alone in a city filled with strangers.  I would visit Roy every day he was in the hospital and sit on the edge of his bed, holding his hand. And though Roy and I would laugh as we always did, our jokes were about the glove-wearing hospital staff that tried to avoid touching him, his new free hospital gown wardrobe with built-in” ties in back” air-conditioning and about his new easy diet plan, we called “Wendy’s drive-through” a drip from a stand above his bed when he could no longer eat.  

Over the year I watched him decline, he went from a being a strapping six-foot 2-inch man to an emaciated 90-pounds that I could carry in my arms. I would return home each night, take a shower and weep uncontrollably. My sleep was filled with concentration camp filled nightmares. I saw Roy lose his ability to first walk, then to eat, then to remember, to speak and finally his ability to breathe.

Roy died in July before his 30th birthday. I could not believe that the world would keep spinning without that sweet “Roy boy.” I could not believe that I didn’t die too. I was so surprised that I could actually go on breathing without him. His family insisted I have his ashes. He told me before he died, he wanted me to have his ashes so someday he could come to my wedding.  

I envision a reunion with him. It would start out with just for the two of us. We would walk around his beloved Piedmont Park in Atlanta. As we walked, we’d catch up on each other’s news. We’d laugh about him never getting older than 29 and the fact that I am much older but still a tiny blonde.

We would cry over having missed so many dinners and trips with each other. I’d tell him about the speaking practice I rebuilt after he died. I’d express regret that I haven’t yet married, so don’t yet have a son I can name Roy. I’d tell him how sorry I am that his sickness prevented him from marrying the man he loved, who later also died of AIDS. 

Then we’d go for dinner at one of his favorite restaurants. He loved great food, and we would share a dessert. We’d meet up with friends afterward and go dancing together until the wee hours.

And I’d thank him for being the best friend in the world to me, for making my life so much richer through the gift of his unconditional love, truly teaching me what is to love and be loved.

--Patti Wood, Atlanta, GA, motivational speaker, and consultant on nonverbal communication and body language. 

Patti Wood, MA - The Body Language Expert. For more body language insights go to her website at Check out Patti's website for her new book "SNAP, Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language and Charisma" at